Borderlands is a looter-shooter franchise that mixes various elements for a unique formula. It’s a western, and also a space western, half-parts sci-fi, half-parts open-world, often time RPG, but also an RPG, an action-adventure series. It’s all of those things.
Gearbox Software created the series, and 2K Games is the platform. So far, they’ve released four main games, several campaign DLCs, two collections, a VR game, and various spin-offs. The total is 25 Borderlands entries.
Every Borderlands Games in Order
The main Borderlands games are very similar to each other. Rather than adding layers and systems, developers simply refine over the original formula. Let’s check on these elements, as they are present in every game:
Vault Hunters: Every game presents about four to six Vault Hunters. Each has three unique skill pathways plus an ability they can modify and enhance with the skill points. The trees may also have secondary abilities, defensive buffs, offensive buffs, utility perks, and similar.
Loot System: The game features randomized loot mechanics like Diablo games. It delivers new, exciting, powerful, and quirky guns all the way through the end. Weapons are procedurally-generated, and there’re over 10 million weapons in each game.
Weapon Brands: Even though systems create random variations of guns, there’s some order. The series has about 12 weapon manufacturers, each one delivering special functionalities and quirks to their weapons.
Gameplay: The gameplay is about exploring a planet, often seeking a Vault. The journey includes action-adventure exploration, vehicle driving, leveling up, tons of loot, and shooting. Meanwhile, you’d be completing the main quests and side quests.
Storytelling: The series’ story is often about finding a Vault on a planet, which hides otherworldly treasures. However, multiple and insane gangs and villains are also after the treasure.
Tone: All of this comes together with the general tone and art style of the game. It’s bombastic, over-the-top, explosive, and hilarious. Each Vault Hunter even has a strong personality that interacts with other NPCs.
New Game+: Borderlands games offer New Game+ features. These allow playing the entire campaign with a bigger level cap, increased skill level cap, better loot, and higher challenges.
Multiplayer: Borderlands offers one of the best local co-op multiplayer experiences. It allows you to play the whole campaign with another player. Also, you can play co-op online with up to four players.
The original game debuted in 2009 for PS3, Xbox 360, Windows, and Mac OSX. A 4K/HDR remaster came out in 2019 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC, packing gameplay upgrades backported from Borderlands 2. However, it’s not currently available on Steam.
The plot focuses on four Vault Hunters traveling to the Pandora planet to search for a Vault, a hidden area full of alien treasures and tech. The group pieces together the clues and fights their way across wildlife, outlaws, and bandits. At the same time, they are competing against the Atlas Corporation and the Hyperion Corporation for the treasure.
Borderlands introduced every element that makes the series unique. From original characters like the oblivious CL4P-TP to the cel-shaded graphics, it was an amazing game.
Lastly, it was a semi-open world game. Players could explore pockets of Pandora on each part of the game until they complete the quests and side quests necessary to move forward.
The first Borderlands DLC is a new questline that takes players to a new area, Jakobs Cove. The site is infected by zombies, and the goal is to investigate the crazy doctor behind the virus.
The Underdome Riot features three riot arenas where players can fight increasingly difficult enemy hordes. The player can gain experience and gear from completing arena levels. However, the levels have increased challenges like low gravity, no shield regeneration, or enemy health regeneration.
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx – 2010 (Borderlands DLC)
The third DLC is about finding a secret armory, which potentially rewards the best weapons the game offers. Meanwhile, General Knoxx is hunting for the player. Gameplay-wise, the expansion has plenty of vehicle-driving sections where the Vault Hunter drives a tank across highways and barricades.
Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution – 2010 (Borderlands DLC)
The fourth DLC takes players to a new area to stop a robot revolution. Story-wise, it’s perhaps the best campaign the game has, full of over-the-top characters and creative plot points.
Borderlands 2 debuted in 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3, Windows, and macOS. It’s also available for PS4, Xbox One, and PSVita.
The new story is about defeating Handsome Jack, leader of the Hyperion Corporation. He managed to secure the Vault, and he’s using the technology to rule all over Pandora. Meanwhile, rumors of a new Vault are luring new Vault Hunters, but whoever arrives will find themselves involved with a revolution.
The plot happens four years after the original game and presents a set of new Vault Hunters. The original protagonists remain in the world as NPCs, leading the revolution against Handsome Jack.
The gameplay is rather similar to the original character. Yet, it refines the formula with more interesting “classes,” better weapons, two additional characters as DLCs, and an engaging story arc. Particularly, Handsome Jack is the most iconic villain of the series.
Borderlands Legends – 2012 (Spin-off)
Borderlands Legends is a mobile game that accompanies Borderlands 2. It debuted in 2012 for iOS devices, but it’s no longer available on official stores.
Legends was an RPG with a top-down perspective. Players moved four Vault Hunters across Pandora for squad-based combat and exploration.
Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty – 2012 (Borderlands 2 DLC)
The story introduces sand pirate captain Scarlett, working with the Vault Hunter to find a Lost Treasure of the Sands. The DLC takes players to a vast desert. There are also new raid bosses, a hovering vehicle, and new weapons.
Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage – 2012 (Borderlands 2 DLC)
The campaign takes players to a new Vault within the “Badass Crater of Badasstitude.” The content revolves around a tournament where the Hunter can win high-end weapons by Torgue weapons.
Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt – 2013 (Borderlands 2 DLC)
The campaign follows Vault Hunters, alongside Sir Hammerlock, hunting for rare animals in Pandora. Meanwhile, a lonely scientist is trying to create a Handsome Jack clone.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep – 2013 (Borderlands 2 DLC)
The fourth post-launch campaign deals with the loss of a particular character. The Vault Hunters and other characters play an RPG table-top game, where Tiny Tina is a whimsical game master.
The setting opens up a dark medieval-fantasy setting. It’s such a popular DLC that it launched as a stand-alone release in November 2021 (more on that later), as well as an upcoming game.
So, because it’s a fantasy setting, the gameplay feels very different from the rest. The DLC presents an epic plot full of ogres, wizards, and other magical beasts. To fight against the evil forces, you find the crazy weapons Tina can imagine, like a shotgun that fires swords.
The Pre-Sequel! debuted in 2015 for Windows, macOS X, Linux, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, and Xbox One.
As the name suggests, the story happens between Borderlands and Borderlands 2. It focuses on Jack, a Hyperion Corporation employee. After the Lost Legion military unit captures Hyperion’s Helios space station, Jack leads a group of Vault Hunters to reclaim the base, sitting on Pandora’s moon Elpis. The group of Vault Hunters, playable characters, includes Claptrap.
The game introduces four playable characters, which were NPCs and bosses in previous games. Additionally, the Pre-Sequel expands the game engine and introduces low-gravity environments, oxygen tanks, and freeze weapons. Additional DLCs added two extra playable characters, which includes a Jack clone (Doppelganger).
The plot is thick, and the levels are intricate and creative. Moreover, the story fills the gap between the two original games. Most importantly, it details the origins of the beloved…Claptrap, a former Vault Hunter, working under Jack.
Holodome Onslaught – 2014 (Borderlands The Pre-Sequel Expansion)
The first post-launch campaign has a new challenge arena with several missions. It also added a New Game + feature with a level 60 cap and additional assignments in the main story tied to Tales from the Borderlands spin-off.
Claptastic Voyage – 2015 (Borderlands The Pre-Sequel Expansion)
The second DLC campaign debuted in 2015 and took its inspiration from the movie Fantastic Voyage.
As such, a miniature version of the character goes into Claptrap’s memories to retrieve a mysterious software. Former Hyperion CEO hid the code within the robot. However, the result unveils Shadowtrap (5H4D0W-TP), the expansion antagonist.
Gameplay-wise, the content introduced Glitch Weapons. These are a new weapon rarity that may create random bonuses when shooting.
The Handsome Collection debuted in 2015 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The bundle includes the Definitive Version of Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. That means it packs all of the available DLCs for both titles.
Additionally, the Collection improved split-screen co-op from two to four players. Other upgrades include high-definition visuals. Lastly, it has cross-save functionality.
Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic interactive comedy adventure in the Borderlands universe. The first episode debuted in 2014 for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 460, and Xbox One. There’re five episodes in total, with the follow-up stories debuting in 2014 and 2015.
The gameplay follows a choice-driven narrative with branching paths and multiple endings. The plot happens between Borderlands 2 and Borderlands 3, as Rhys explores Pandora.
Rhys is looking to replace Handsome Jack as leader of the Hyperion Corporation. He teams up with con artist Fiona to weasel their way out of trouble with gangsters, bandits, wildlife, and corporations.
You can play the game as either Rhys or Fiona. Each perspective may bring different choices, paths, and outcomes.
Borderlands 2 VR brings back the looter shooter for VR headsets. To make it work, developers added a SLow-Mo ability to set up attacks and movement. Also, players can Teleport for added mobility.
The game is available for Windows (HTC Vive and Oculus Rift), and PlayStation VR.
Borderlands 3 debuted in 2019 for PS4, Xbox One, Windows, macOS, and Google Stadia. There’re also versions for Xbox Series and PS5, which include free upgrades for old-gen owners.
The new plot centers on four new Vault Hunters trying to stop the Calypso twins, a pair of new villains. The Crimson Raiders group (the original Vault Hunters) hired the heroes for the tasks. Meanwhile, the twins are amassing a cult that harnesses the power of various alien Vaults across the galaxy.
The necessity to explore various planets introduces the biggest novelty of the game, a spaceship, Sanctuary III. It works as the game’s main hub, where you can talk to other NPCs, chill, select missions, and travel to planets.
Other than that, the gameplay is very similar, with ever-so-slightly changes. However, there’s a larger emphasis on weapon manufacturers, loot, skill trees, and similar. The game also introduced class-specific gadgets and modifiers.
Lastly, characters have new combat maneuvers, like crouch sliding, wall climbing, or taking cover.
Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot – 2019 (Borderlands 3 DLC)
The first Borderlands 3 DLC debuted in 2019 for the same platforms. The campaign steals from an old Handsome Jack casino.
Guns, Love and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock – 2020 (Borderlands 3 DLC)
The following content focuses on Sir Hammerlock and Wainwright Jacobs. You must help them plan their wedding on a planet controlled by a dangerous cult.
Bounty of Blood – 2020 (Borderlands 3 DLC)
The plot takes players to a new planet, where the Vault Hunters defend a town from the Devil Raiders gang. The outlaws seek to control a leftover technology in the Gehenna planet.
Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck – 2020 (Borderlands 3 DLC)
The 2020 DLC features Psycho Krieg, a DLC playable character from Borderlands 2. Researcher Patricia Tannis has been studying the mind of Pandora psychos, and Krieg became her guinea pig.
Vault Hunters must enter the psycho’s fractured mind to find the sickness, a pattern that infects every psycho. Tannis named it the “Vaulthalla.”
Gameplay-wise, the plot is an excuse to deliver the craziest maps in the saga. That’s saying something. As a result, much of the areas are akin to Doom Eternal or Doom 2016. There’s plenty of platforming involved in every fight, action is fast-paced, and mobility is key for survival.
The Borderlands 3 Ultimate Edition includes the four available DLCs. On top of that, it has various skins, weapon packs, and more.
The Legendary Collection debuted in 2020 for Nintendo Switch. It bundles Borderlands: GoTY Edition, Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The three games come with all of the available campaign DLCs, plus the extra playable characters.
Co-op changes on the Nintendo Switch, though. The collection allows up to 2 players instead of 4 on a split-screen configuration.
The One-Shot Adventure debuted in November 2021 for PS4, SP5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Windows. It was free on the Epic Games Store (until November 16).
It’s the stand-alone experience of the Borderlands 2 DLC. However, it improves graphics, playability and adds more content.
As a stand-alone game, it doesn’t need the Borderlands 2 copy to run.
Overall, the campaign is packing fantasy, fun, a whimsical narration, and over-the-top weapons.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is an upcoming action RPG by Gearbox Software. It will continue the One-Shot Adventure, but this time becoming a fully-fledged game. Once again, the setting is Tiny Tina’s fantasy table-top RPG game, where she plays as the dungeon master.
The Borderlands spin-off will debut in 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Windows. Gameplay will stay similar to its predecessors. It will allow solo, co-op, and online co-op multiplayer.
Players will be able to create their own avatars from six different classes. Another novelty is how characters will be able to mix and match various skills to fit their playstyles. Also, leveling up rewards “Hero Points” to upgrade the character.
Lastly, players have a medieval-fantasy arsenal, aside from sci-fi weapons. These include melee weapons, skills, summons, and similar.
All Borderlands Games in Order of Release Date
- Borderlands – 2009
- The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned – 2009
- Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot – 2010
- The Secret Armory of General Knoxx – 2010
- Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution – 2010
- Borderlands 2 – 2012
- Borderlands Legends – 2012
- Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty – 2012
- Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage – 2012
- Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt – 2013
- Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep – 2013
- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! – 2015
- Holodome Onslaught – 2014
- Claptastic Voyage – 2015
- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 2015
- Tales from the Borderlands – 2014 – 2015
- Borderlands 2 VR – 2018
- Borderlands 3 – 2019
- Moxxi’s Heist of the Handsome Jackpot – 2019
- Guns, Love and Tentacles: The Marriage of Wainwright & Hammerlock – 2020
- Bounty of Blood – 2020
- Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck – 2020
- Borderlands Legendary Collection – 2020
- Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep: A Wonderlands One-Shot Adventure – 2021
- Tiny Tina’s Wonderland – 2022